Well known RTE journalist and acclaimed author, Carole Coleman officially launched the Killenummery and Killery Community Hub Health and Wellbeing Night at a special event near Dromahair last Wednesday.
Speaking at the launch on August 24, Ms Coleman highlighted the need for greater investment in mental health services across the country.
She noted that the spend on mental health in the overall health budget accounts for just 5.6% of the annual spend noting that it needs to be double that to meet the needs of the community.
With the impact of Covid, not just on our health, but also the impact of the pandemic measures on our mental wellbeing, Ms Coleman said it is even more important that mental health services be properly funded and staffed.
She stressed the importance of developing resilient mental health but acknowledged that “unfortunately not all of us are blessed with good, strong mental health”.
Pointing to the success of events like Leitrim's Health is Wealth and noting the new health and wellbeing night now being organised by the Killenummery and Killery Community Hub, Ms Coleman observed that “it's important that we keep this conversation (about mental health) open”.
She said that mental health issues, issues like depression, anxiety, addiction and abuse, occurred in “all walks of life”.
“Who of us knows what's going on behind the scenes of that person (we meet on the street)?”
Acknowledging the difficulties that many experience in sharing their personal struggles, Ms Coleman said that “events like the health and wellbeing night on September 29 are really important. As others share their experiences with you, you learn we are not alone. We learn that it's ok not to feel ok...we also learn from listening to people that there are actual words you can put on how you feel”.
She pointed out that events that highlight the challenges faced by others, that open that dialogue on mental health, also have a knock-on impact in encouraging people to seek help.
Paying tribute to the speakers who will be talking at the Killenummery and Killery Community Hub Health and Wellbeing Night, Ms Coleman said it takes courage to share personal stories and she thanked all involved for coming forward to take part.
She also praised the local parish of Killenummery and Killery for their “forward thinking” in relation to ensuring the conversation around mental health continues.
“For many years I read about the Leitrim's Health is Wealth Event and I am delighted to see this (work) continuing with this health and wellbeing night planned for Killennummery Parish Hall next month,” she said.
“I don't take my good mental health for granted and I am really proud to be here tonight where mental health is taken seriously and to officially launch this event. Best of luck to everyone involved on September 29.”
Local parish priest Fr Patsy McDermott, joined by his dog, Mac, welcomed those gathered for the official launch of the event, but also shared his experience as a person living alone during the pandemic.
“I have my little dog Mac and throughout Covid, that has been a lifeline for me....having a little colleague like that, it takes the focus off yourself,” he acknowledged.
He said that the impact of Covid was felt by everyone noting “we've all been living alone in a little insulated world for the last two years” and stressing the importance in now coming back into a space where we can speak, sing, dance and share again.
“We're very proud of our parish and we'll make every effort to reach out to all. It is so important to encourage one another to reach out to one another and gather together,” he said.
The lineup of speakers for the Health and Wellbeing Night at 7.30pm in Killenummery Parish Hall includes: Frank Diamond, chief operating officer, ALPS suicide prevention; Martina Mitchell, who will share her own personal story of resilience; former Galway hurler, Justin Campbell, who will talk about addition and gambling; former Leitrim GAA star and current GAA Community and Health Manager at Croke Park, Colin Regan and Andy Moran, Leitrim GAA Manager who will talk about the benefits of exercise in looking after your mental health.
A special thank you to the McPadden Family, to Michael O'Brien, Fr Patsy McDermott and Charlie McGettigan for entertaining the crowd at the launch and to all those involved in the evening.
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